The red cross happens to be a J. J. logo for its first-aid products. And though hot water bottles are not among the many therapeutic devices the company produces, Mr. Hacker mounted the gift on his office wall. It’s still there, proving that for all its practical duties soothing aches and warming toes, a hot water bottle can simply hang around and look attractive.
That such a simple technology (open spout, insert warm water) offers so many returns on investment appeals to Mr. Hacker. He set off on a brisk January day to see some of the remarkably varied forms a hot water bottle can take.
He began at C. O. Bigelow Apothecaries in the West Village, a 174-year-old drugstore that stocks the genre’s baseline, a two-quart ridged rubber flask made by Cara (about $15).
Mr. Hacker, who was trained as an industrial designer, took issue with the bottle’s awkward closure and uncomfortably hard spout, and he grimaced at the dreary taupe color. “I wonder if there are other opportunities for soft and cuddly,” he said.
He found one such opportunity while paying what turned out to be a valedictory visit to Moss on Greene Street. (The hallowed design store will soon be moving to a new location.) There, a Dutch hot water bottle called Too Beautiful to Hide had a velourlike finish and a cinched neck that reminded Mr. Hacker of the drawstring on a velvet bag.
At Mxyplyzyk, Mr. Hacker smiled at a hot water bottle with a heart on its turtleneck cover. “There’s a handmade aesthetic,” he said of the knitted wrappings that often lend charm to generic bottles. The origins, he imagined, lie in “Grandma getting one of those horrible rubber ones and having the craft skills to dress it up.”
Yet not all hot water bottles look like friendly bedfellows. At Kiosk, Mr. Hacker studied a ridged steel oval from Japan that resembled a cross between a canteen and a trilobite. “It seems a little industrial and forbidding,” he said, “which is also what I like about it.”
Online, he admired Fatboy’s bottle that is tucked into a big plaid square for outdoor use, and Restoration Hardware’s model covered with a fake lynx pelt. “The idea that it’s replicating a warm, furry animal is nice,” Mr. Hacker said of the latter. “I have two dogs, and they’re my hot water bottles.”
Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/02/garden/shopping-for-hot-water-bottles-with-chris-hacker.html?partner=rss&emc=rss
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